If the Lakers are trying to get Kobe Bryant to change his mind about leaving, they're off to a good start.
Trade discussions initially involved the Lakers, Wolves, Pacers and a fourth team, and sources told ESPN that that team was the Celtics. They would have gotten Jermaine O'Neal from the Pacers and sent young players to the Wolves. The Lakers would have gotten Garnett, while the Pacers would have landed Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom and center Andrew Bynum. Minnesota would also have acquired at least one of the teams' draft picks, possibly Boston's No. 5 in Thursday's draft.
Later on Monday, the Times reported that the deal in that form had fallen apart because the Celtics did not like their end of the deal. According to the newspaper, the Lakers and Timberwolves continued discussions, trying to broker a deal just between the two teams.
Ford: Wolves hungry?
The Timberwolves will have to get enough in return to make this deal work, ESPN Insider's Chad Ford writes. He offers some possible scenarios. Blog
Sources told the Times, however, that Wolves general manager Kevin McHale is not thrilled with the idea of getting Odom and Bynum, even if they come with the Lakers' 19th pick.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press contacted Pacers CEO and president Donnie Walsh and he denied any knowledge of the trade talks.
"I haven't heard of any of this," Walsh told the paper.
According to the Times, Lakers owner Jerry Buss and Wolves owner Glen Taylor spoke on the phone for about 20 minutes on Friday. Buss then suggested that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and McHale carry on the discussions on Monday.
ESPN's Jim Gray reports that Garnett and Bryant "have been in touch" since reports surfaced that the Lakers were trying to obtain Garnett from the Timberwolves.
Bryant repeatedly has asked for a trade over the past month, saying that he doesn't feel that the Lakers are trying hard enough to improve. After losing in the NBA Finals four years ago, the Lakers missed the playoffs in 2004-05 and were out of the postseason in the first round the past two years.
Pacers president Larry Bird said that he can understand why the Lakers would try to do whatever it took to keep Bryant.
"I always thought Kobe, when Shaq started going down a little
bit, was the best player in the league," Bird told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "It's hard to
trade the best player in the league. I'm sure the Lakers are doing
everything they can to try and mend fences.
"He's such a talent. It's just unfortunate. It's a little
discouraging seeing him trying to get out of there."
Garnett never has requested a trade publicly despite the fact that the Wolves have struggled to remain competitive in recent years. Minnesota finished with a 32-50 record last season. The Wolves haven't been to the playoffs since 2004.
With Garnett able to opt out of his contract after next season, the time might be right for the Wolves to pull the trigger on a deal. McHale said last week that he has not been actively shopping his star, but that was a bit of a departure from previous statements in which he said he would not trade Garnett.
The 12-year veteran is owed $22 million next season and $23 million in 2008-09, the final year of his contract. He has requested an extension and the Times is reporting that Buss has told Taylor he would be willing to do that.
Garnett averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season. He is a 10-time All-Star.
Bynum's name has come up often in any trade talks concerning the Lakers recently. He averaged 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds last season but is only 19 years old and 7 feet tall.
Odom averaged 15.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists last season, but he did miss 26 games because of injuries. He has shoulder surgery in May but is expected to return for next season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.